the weary world rejoices.

December 24, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 8 Comments

 

I feel the flame of the candle under my palm, close to burning. I have a candle to mark this season, and that is all. I have no Christmas objects, unless you count the unopened chocolate advent calendar strewn across the carpet at home. I don’t have a Christmas tree, unless you count the small, fake tree wrapped in cardboard in our basement. Advent means more to me this year than any other, but the pretty ornaments of Christmas will stay packed away this December.

The stillness of Advent is where my heart lies, while the wounds of the broken world are evident, sitting right before me. All is not calm, all is not bright.

I’m sitting here in a hospice, where life is savoured and death comes silent in the night. I wonder how I ended up here, with my daughter as a respite guest. In this season of children’s hospices and Christmas trees, I come softened and quiet in the presence of Jesus—my cloak of “inner strength” worn threadbare.

Christmas will be simple this year. We are in and out of respite care, and at the whim of my daughter’s medical needs. I don’t want to be busy; I’m tired of being tired.

And yet, this is where I catch a glimpse of the coming jubilee, in the wide open wilderness. There is a promise of a jubilee after the starved years—I just can’t see it yet.

On breathless days, I find myself asking God, “when will this weariness pass, and will it come again?”

This past year has been too heavy and I am waiting hard.

I wait in anticipation, gaping wide to receive the joy of my salvation.

I wait, while our 20-month-old daughter seems to get weaker and sicker.

I wait, though my heart breaks with heaviness for the fragile souls in this unkind world: the sick, the orphans, the poor.

When I feel barren, when the grief peaks, I want to tune my heart to sing and bring forth joy and be ravished by wonder, as Ann Voskamp says. It sounds impossible and a little insane, but I have to make room for it. Joy, in the busyness and the brooding, means Christmas as we know it is on pause this year.

What I want instead, is to experience the fullness of joy, right here in the muck.

God’s glorious joy goes far beyond me, nourishes deep into the marrow. It isn’t a feeling, or an emotion that carries me through the dark days. It is woven into my fibres, knocked hard into my bones. I need this joy, more than I need the traditions of this winter holiday.

This joy is the gift Jesus left when He ascended to Heaven, and it feels like the scars Thomas fingered when Jesus arose from the tomb. It feels like Mary Magdalene’s heart thrilling within her, at the sight of the cloth and tomb left empty.

In the midst of their grief and lament, He came and replaced their black sackcloth with a wild and shocking revelation. Can you imagine the rejoicing that took place when the disciples saw Jesus again? When He spoke peace over their hearts and breathed on them until they inhaled the Holiest of Spirits? Can you imagine the spine tingling, palpable joy in the room? It was indeed a holy joy, carried on the breathless declaration of Mary’s voice: He lives! He is alive.

He is enough.

He came fast, into the hay and manure of a barn. He came wailing for His mother’s breast. He came with scars, and holes wide in His feet. He came with an understanding of human suffering.

“I am here,” Jesus told Thomas after the resurrection. “I am here, and these flesh wounds are real, and I am alive. But son? Daughter? Remember this: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

For the things we see, they will often overshadow the truth—they will mar our understanding of joy, hope and peace.

And so we wait, with the unseen things pressed deep within our hearts, our eyes fixed on Him.

This Christmas our hearts are full, but in the midst of the twinkling lights and carols, our hearts are still. It’s in this stillness, that we find the strength to breathe in His Majesty, and know that the babe born of a flesh woman, came to mend the broken things.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Originally published on She Loves Magazine. 

8 Comments

  • Reply Ashley December 27, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Michaela,
    i don’t know you but have been following along in your journey. I woke in the wee hours of Christmas morning with the need to pray for you and your family. Just thought you should know the Lord brought you to my heart and mind- from one Mama’s heart to yours.
    Ashley

    • Reply Michaela. December 30, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Ashley, thank you so much for this. It means a lot.
      xo

  • Reply Donna-Jean Brown December 26, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Oh, Honey, what can you do but hang on to the One who is hanging onto you.
    Sweet girl is lucky she has you for a mother.

  • Reply willowlost December 26, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    There are no words for what I feel reading your words Michaela. May His love and peace swaddle you and Jay and darling Flo and hold you all close.

  • Reply crochetingbeautiful December 26, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    I wanted to comment before I read this post b/c just seeing the picture moved me. for I saw a little girl knowing she is safe in her moms arms and a mom that was so in love with her baby that she will and does push through anything for her.

  • Reply Sarah December 25, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Merry Christmas to your family. Your family was offered up in my intentions during mass this Christmas morning.

  • Reply Dawn Scott December 24, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    So touched once again by your words Michaela…and continue to pray for you and Jay and your angel Flo. Hope this quote from Henri Nouwen on Advent speaks to you. ~Dawn Scott

    “I think that we have hardly thought through the immense implications of the mystery of the incarnation. Where is God? God is where we are weak, vulnerable, small and dependent. God is where the poor are, the hungry, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the powerless. How can we come to know God when our focus is elsewhere, on success, influence, and power? I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need. If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form. Each one of us is seriously searching to live and grow in this belief, and by friendship we can support each other. I realize that the only way for us to stay well in the midst of the many “worlds” is to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. When we discover him we can truly rejoice.”

  • Reply Nanny December 24, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Oh Michaela, Jay and little Flo – the Lord is kind the Lord is good – sometimes we have to wait a very long time to understand what is put upon us and sometimes we never are blessed in the knowing. Your faithfulness thru your journey is an inspiration to so many, particularly at this time, when so many falter in it. I post at our Church family website so our members can be humbled and add their prayers to hold you up through the sorrow and into a time of understanding. I wrap my prayers around you and my heart exudes love toward you. Try to feel all of that from so many sources and I pray it helps to hold you up when that flame within you dims but continues to flicker quietly while we wait.
    Nanny Lou

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